The Last Sunset
Year 1 - Episode 11
The prospect of a normal life dangles tantalizingly for the occupants of the runaway moon. Real air and sunshine; a new existence, similar to that on Earth. But there is drama behind the dream.
- This was one of the original storylines written before series production. According to Zienia Merton, Gerry Anderson intended the story to be cheap to film as they could use the real sky. Unfortunately the cost of creating all the special effects against a blue sky was much higher than normal, and very little was filmed outdoors. Chris Penfold used a TV play called The Offshore Island for inspiration; in the 1959 play, a group isolated on an island find themselves the only survivors of a nuclear war. A man, a woman and their adolescent children must preserve the best of Western Civilisation, while creating a new civilisation. The play was written by Marghanita Laski based on her 1954 stage play.
- Script dated 21 Jul 1974; blue page amendments 22nd July; pink page amendments (4pp) 23 July 1974.
- Filmed from Tuesday 23rd July 1974- Tues 6th August 1974 (16 days). Additional scenes were shot Wednesday 21st August (doubled-up with Voyager's Return).
- The first scenes shot outdoors in the series were filmed in the studio car park, made up as the exterior of the airlock door. On a chilly British August day (21st), the actors were very cold when they were drenched in fake rain.
- The first 44inch Eagle was repainted for the first time in the series, and the second 44inch Eagle was introduced (it is only seen in a few close-ups of the Eagle command module with Ariel probe attached).
- Dozens of small model capsules were made.
- Because the Eagles are filmed against a light background, wires are visible in several launch scenes, and in shots of the 22inch Eagle in the storm. A wire is also visible when the probe attaches to the Eagle command module (actually filmed in reverse, so the probe was pulled away on the wire).
- track from Supercar "Celestial Theme" by Barry Gray
- track from Stingray "Raptures Of The Deep" by Barry Gray
- track from Joe 90 "King For A Day" by Barry Gray
- track from Secret Service "A Case For The Bishop" by Barry Gray
- track from Thunderbird 6 by Barry Gray
- Ariel is a fairy in Shakespeare's The Tempest, and a moon of Uranus.
- Four times the oxygen content of Earth would be 84% oxygen.
- The capsules transport vast quantities of nitrogen, oxygen and water. Somehow the Moon also acquires Earth gravity along with an atmosphere. Without Earth gravity, the atmosphere would leak into space but the rate would be slow and a significant loss would take thousands of years. There is a discussion in New Earths by James Oberg (Stackpole Books, 1981) about terraforming the Moon (see page 223). Oberg calculates a 60km sphere of water would provide sufficient raw material for a 1-bar atmosphere on the Moon. Thanks to Raja Thiagarajan for the information.
- Around the fight there are at least 10 capsules, all within 10 metres. There must be billions over the lunar surface.
- Although we can expect the Moon to be fairly well mapped, wind and water would cause erosion making much of the maps obsolete- hence the Eagle survey.
- Ariel's sun must produce less ultraviolet, so the thinner ozone layer is sufficient to protect the Alphans.
- Normally in the series the Moon has no apparent rotation. The breakaway is likely to have changed the normal 28 day rotation. For story purposes a planet will stay in the same position over Alpha throughout the episode. But in this episode the Moon has a rapid rotation- approximately 24 hours, so the Alphans have a day and night like Earth. Like the atmosphere and gravity, this may have been engineered by the aliens. Thanks to John Day.
- Paul refers to the people from old Peru crossing the Pacific. Although Thor Heyerdahl in 1947 proved it was possible, the evidence - linguistic, archeological and genetic- shows the Polynesians actually came from the west, not the east.
- Koenig asserts it took 25 years to reclaim the Sahara (which presumes it began in 1974, when the episode was filmed). In fact the Sahara has been growing for the last 4500 years (for Palaeolithic and Neolithic cultures it was a green, tropical land with a large population). Climatic change and human overgrazing have been extending it ever since, although there have been recent irrigation projects in limited areas.
- The lightning destroys the Eagle electronics, but the commlocks should be unaffected (as are the people wearing them). When the Eagle overflies, Paul and Alan could have tried to use their commlocks. One explanation might be that the commlocks are channeled through the Eagle, and the distant Eagle is too far for a signal.
- The photographs of the Moon that Koenig and Victor inspect looking for new colony sites are actual photos of the Moon by NASA's Lunar Orbiter missions from 1966-67. Thanks to Marcus Lindroos.
- The laser blaster ("hand held armour piercing laser") is seen. It is also used in Alpha Child and is often seen on Eagle weapons racks.
- Helena's medicine pack contains packets of "Gillette Sabre" and an "AVON Blood Administration Set".
Eagle 1 (search); 2 and 7 (initial probes); 4 (corrosion proof); 9,12,14,15,19,24 (named); 28 (crashed)
On Ariel. May not be humanoid.
The script describes technicians refitting the windows after the Moon has an atmosphere. In the episode they appear to be able to just open a window. When the first corrosion is discovered, the script has Koenig ordering the windows replaced and Alpha repressurised with its own atmosphere.
- Very much a character-based episode, with good roles for the secondary cast (Paul and Alan especially) and good humour.
- Helena and Alan are surprised to see Paul's shelter in the morning- although Paul has obviously taken a large number of things from the Eagle while they were sleeping, including Sandra's bed, the Eagle door, ladders, netting, ropes and various boxes. The twelve storage boxes were presumably from their marker cross.
- The This Episode sequence includes an alternative take of Helena (stunt woman Dorothy Ford) being thrown back by the Eagle explosion. In this take, the wire pulling her back is clearly visible.
Mike Stevens, Linzy Scott and Lynda Westover pose on the set